From the Editor

Here’s a Gift Worth Giving

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

How about giving integrity?

One day last spring, something memorable happened at Carlton University (in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, not to be confused with Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota). Thirty-one students in the same class turned in identical research papers. It was determined that the students had all accessed the same Internet Website.

If only one student had done it, the ruse might not have caught the professor’s attention. But here’s what else opened the instructor’s eyes: the research paper’s topic was “ethics.”

Historians tell us that there has never been a century during which people didn’t suspect that things were going to hell in a handbasket. That’s why we continue to need Jesus in our midst, and that’s why reading Scripture does not become obsolete. (Have you read some lately?)

The unethical ethics “research” caper suggests an opportunity. If young people are lacking in moral fiber, where will they get it? From those who have responsibility for shaping their development, that’s where.

What are we teaching our children? What do we want them to know and believe and do in their mature lives? By word and example, we can provide the rising generation a priceless gift — integrity.

The people whom I admire and celebrate as gifts to me and to the world are those who are true to themselves, and who have the courage to stand apart when pressures suggest going with the crowd.

Where does one get the conviction and courage to live this way — to tell the truth, to live with honor, to be a trustworthy individual, to live with compassion, and not to give it all away when greed or ridicule urge another path?
Our daughter, Wendy, signs her e-mail messages with a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr: “Integrity is probably not possible in groups larger than one.” Maybe so, but it only takes one to make a difference.

There is no “integrity gene.” Integrity is a gift we receive from others, who understand and affirm it. It’s a gift we give to those whom we love. It’s a gift that’s sorely needed now, and one that you and I can share.